Did community living kill the garage band?
Growing up, my next door neighbours were obnoxiously loud – whether it was the father’s Kawasaki Ninja roaring off to work in the mornings or my friend’s older brother’s band playing drum-heavy original music or their semi-amateur covers of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana.
Our house was in a suburban street, so if we had an issue with noise, we would have to knock on their off-street garage door and ask them to “turn down the volume please”! Five minutes later, Smells Like Teen Spirit would be blasting through the Thursday evening silence once more.
Garage bands go as far back as the 1960s in the US and the UK – this only includes bands that achieved some notable level of fame or notoriety – and probably closer to the 1970s in South Africa. Famous outfits include The Troggs, formed in 1964, and famous for Wild Thing, punk rockers The Ramones which formed a decade later in New York, REM in 1980, Nirvana a decade later and more recently, Kings of Leon.
South Africans are increasingly opting to buy and rent in community living developments, governed by homeowners associations or bodies corporate. Living in closer proximity to other people has its challenges – though it provides a greater sense of security – which includes neighbours’ behaviour. In fact, behavioural issues and transgressions against body corporate rules make up a big chunk of disputes lodged at the Community Schemes Ombud – which includes residents infringing on the peace and enjoyment rights of other residents.
In terms of the Sectional Title Schemes Management Regulations’ Conduct Rules state in clause 7. (1) The owner or occupier of a section must not create noise likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of another section or another person’s peaceful enjoyment of the common property.
What this means is that the garage band of yesteryear is increasingly becoming a thing of the past, and even noise proofing will have its limitations as the body corporate may insist that the garage is used for its intended purpose of housing vehicles. This is clear in the Sectional Title Schemes Management Regulations which states that The body corporate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a member or any other occupier of a section or exclusive use area does not—
(f) subject to the provisions of section 13(1)(g) of the Act, use a section or exclusive use area for a purpose other than for its intended use as —
(i) shown expressly or by implication on a registered sectional plan or an approved building plan;
(ii) can reasonably be inferred from the provisions of the applicable town planning by-laws or the rules of the body corporate; or
(iii) is obvious from its construction, layout and available amenities
All three of the above definitions are very clear in their intention: a garage is not a music studio.
So, what does this mean for the garage bands of today and the arena bands of tomorrow? Hopefully for today’s musos, they have friends who still live in the suburbs and whose parents don’t mind parking their cars outside the garage for a few hours. And hopefully, too, the garage bands of today are better than the one I grew up listening to.
Words: Maxine Ridder